“This is rediculous,” Chris stated after his last race of the weekend at PPMS, “all I’m doing is fighting a car to make it turn.” Racing at the same track for 12 years didn’t help the team, they should have ventured out sooner. There were no issues with handling at their now closed home track, but that track was built for more straight away speeds rather than the turns.
This was the first weekend the CR9 raced 2 nights in a row, beginning their weekend at Lernerville. Deciding there is no better way to figure out what’s wrong than to keep changing and keep trying, the team headed to PPMS for a race on Saturday. Friday night saw the team get an 8th place finish while Saturday was a worse result of next to last. Chris even pulled in around lap 10 when the leader lapped him.
“All we can do is keep trying to get this straightened out, I’d like to race, and I’d like to produce good results for my crew, they work hard too and it’s aggravating with us all frustrated looking like we couldn’t beat the pace car.”
Friday night was a disappointment again as Chris struggled on the track with too tight of a race car. After past nights, they loosened it up, but it didn’t prove to help, infact, it made it one of the hardest struggles this year yet to drive. Chris’ bad pill draw started him in the back of the heat, exactly where he finished and started the feature. A dreary, rain threatening night worked in the team’s favor by producing a lower car count and enabling Chris to get 10th in the feature.
The team will regroup, put on the original set-up from the end of last year and hope for a better turn out this coming Friday. They may feel defeated early on in this season, but they’re not discouraged!
“That wasn’t like starting on the pole of TVR, I was surrounded before I knew it, these guys race hard and I’ve never raced so hard for a 7th place finish in my life” Chris said with a smirk on his face after the feature. “I love this place, it has brought the fun back into driving for me.”
The crew is still struglling with a tight car, but the changes they did make made for a easier handling ride for Chris. With a 3rd place finish
in the heat, and a 7th place in the feature, the team was happy. The CR9 will be back in action at Lernerville next Friday.
Sunday, June 2nd Chris, crew and race car will be on display at the 8th annual Cruisin’ for Courtney car cruise in at Green House Park in Johnstown from 12 to 5pm. The car is pretty beat up, but that adds character and lets the public see the results of racing on the dirt ovals. “My crew didn’t
even want to wash it, they wanted to display it with the chunks of red clay and all saying it may add curiosity to the potential race fan to get
them to a dirt track, but I insited it be cleaned up” said Chris.
So far racing for the CR9 in 2013 has been a struggle, but the beginning of every season seems to have gone this way in the past. One major difference is a new venue for the crew this year which only adds to the expected bad karma for the beginning of the year. It could be worse though, instead of not making features the team could have to contend with other issues. We’ve also seen another side of Chris we haven’t seen in the past when he struggles with racing..he’s not pulling in the pits or infield giving up. As in the past his crew was more laid back because of his demeanor, but this year they’ve stepped up the game, make quick changes to the car, work hard and get him back out, even if it is for another disappointing run. With 27 late models in the pits, a too tight race car, Chris found himself sitting in the grandstands watching the race once again.
“It’s just going to take time up here, we’re racing with people who grew up on this track, we’re racing with legends who have won big races here and other tracks. I got spoiled with not having to think too much, just climb in the car and race, and it’s not like that at Lernerville. This is a completely different ball game in a new ball park with new players for us, we’ll get it. It’s just going to take a little time,” stated Chris. Repetition and determination are the keys to learning, and that’s just what Chris and the crew have in mind for this year, repetitively go to Lernerville on a weekly basis and learn. The team plans on returning to Lernerville on Friday, May 24th for a kick off to Memorial Day weekend!
The team found out this weekend that big changes to the car’s set-up are not always a good thing..moderation is the key!
Bad pill draws are not such a bad thing when you have a nice track like Lernerville to race on, but bad set-up can be! Starting next to last in his heat, Chris went no where as he struggled to make the car even turn. With one more chance to make the 20 car field in the B main, he failed once again to correct the problem, leaving him sitting in the stands to watch the feature for a change. Disappointed, but not discouraged is how the team looked at the night. “I was rushed all last weekend and week in the engine shop so there’s a chance we may have overlooked some other damage from our run in with the wall last weekend,” Chris stated. Seeing that Lernerville does not have the super lates next weekend, the crew decided to not go anywhere else and concentrate on getting the car looked over in the next 2 weeks. Because Chris and crew chief, Dustin, secured their Dirt Car memberships last night, the decision to call Lernerville “home track” all year was finalized.
“I’m loving this, I finally get to see a side of Chris racing that I’ve been wanting; a step up in our racing program,” stated an excited Dustin.
The CR9 will return to the Action Track on May 17th
As crew chief, Dustin, stated to Chris with a huge smile, “4 wide was not the answer”.
Chris pulled a #10 pill that originally put him on the outside pole of the 3rd heat race, but with the pole sitter scratching, Chris took over the spot with former track champion and multiple feature winner Jared Miley starting beside him. With 30 late models signing in the pits to start a 20 car feature, Chris needed at least a top 5 finish to advance through the heat. Miley pulled off from the pack taking the checkers and Chris wheeled his way to a 3rd spot finish. Friday marked only Chris’ 2nd career late model feature start at the famous speedway. Redraw for the feature put Chris in the 6th starting spot. He drifted back in the pack until he found his line, a line which proved to be the wrong one as it ended his night in the front stretch wall trying to make it 4 wide down the front stretch. He was disappointed he didn’t finish the race, but the entire crew was all smiles as he limped the car back to the pits. “We were coming back up through, I didn’t want to lift because you don’t get to the front by lifting, and now we have some minor damage to fix,” Chris said with a chuckle.
The team has decided to race Lernerville on a semi-regular basis. It will put a rush on most of the pit crew with the 2 hour drive after their regular jobs, but Chris will be able to leave early enough to haul the car to the track and get everything unloaded. The CR9 will still make appearances at other tracks they planned on, but for right now are going to concentrate on the track they fell in love with.
Chris stated, “The more we come here the more I like it, and it’s the only way to learn the track and the how the others drive who we’ve rarely raced with in the past. It may take us a while, but I know I can win here, you can actually race at this track.” The CR9 will be back in action at Lernerville this coming Friday!
Despite being a 2 hour tow, Chris has decided to travel out to Lernerville Friday, April 26th, for one of their regular Fab 4 season shows. It has quickly become his favorite place to race at and would be there on a regular basis if it wasn’t such a long tow. One challenge for the team is trying to figure out the Hoosier tires as they’ve been running and are sponsored by Lias Tire (American Racers). “We have some good friends who run there weekly, so we’ll have good access to tire information, we’ll get it figured out,” stated Chris.
Chris and crew headed out to Lernerville Speedway on Sat, April 13th for their test and tune session. Having had problems with the transmission, carb idle screw, and brakes, they were glad to have a few laps before the race on Sunday. The gang got the car fixed for Chris to start 8th in the fall rained out make up feature for the Stampede. At one point in time, Chris fell back as far as 14th but was able to drive his way to finish in the same spot he started, 8th. With only having raced at Lernerville 2 other times, he and his crew were pleased with a finish, let alone a top 10. “I love this track and would race here every weekend if we lived closer,” stated Chris. “The racing surface is excellent and the officials run the show well. We’ll be back for the Firecracker in June.”
With the first race of the season under their belts, Chris will meet with the crew soon to decide where they will race the weekend of April 26th. Stay tuned!
Winter may have just begun, but Chris and the CR9 crew have been working sporadically on the racer to get it ready for the upcoming season. They will start the year out at the Stampede at Lernerville in April having already secured an 8th place starting spot. Plans for the rest of the year will include light traveling for the team as they hit some tracks they use to run (Roaring Knob, Bedford, Dog Hollow, Hesston, Marion Center, TVR, etc) and some new tracks like PPMS and Hagerstown Speedway. With no home track, Chris and his crew will just pick and choose races they wish to run, not keeping a tight every weekend schedule. Because of Chris and the team’s love of the racing surface at Lernerville, he and the team plan on attempting to run the Firecracker there the end of June.
As of now, they plan on starting the year with the same body they finished the 2012 season with. No major changes other than a complete engine rebuild will be done this winter.
Because of the amount of time his business requires, Chris normally isn’t the type of racer to venture out far from his local track. For a change of pace, Chris and 2 other teams from Thunder Valley, and his sister in law, Cindy all took their racecars to one last race of the year, the Steel City Stampede at Lernerville Speedway. 1993 was the last time Chris ever ran on the famous track in a big block modified. “I learned when I raced here in ’93 to never lift into turn 1. I did back then and found myself quickly at the back of the pack”, Chris stated after his heat race win Oct 26th at the “Ville”. Steady rain postponed the feature until April of 2013. Chris and the crew plan on making that return trip in the spring, having to start 8th from the redraw.
The team will now take a short rest before beginning preparations for the 2013 season. They would like to thank their fans, other supporting teams, and sponsors: Ed Powell Motorsports, Lazer Chassis, Hillside Auto, TC’s Fuel Injection, the Windber Slovak Club and, of course, Edge Racing Engines. It’s been a good year and we look forward to seeing everyone in the spring!